Students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY often spend more than half their waking hours practicing their respective instruments. What’s not common practice, however, is a different kind of training spearheaded by one of the university teachers — boxing.

Professor James VanDemark believes boxing improves musical ability, so his students spend an hour a week at a no-frills gym with longtime trainer Dom Arioli. There’s no actual sparring with each other, but Arioli instead focuses on basics like bag work, jabs and push-ups.

Students say the sessions have improved their posture, relieved stress and increased their cardiovascular fitness, helping them produce bigger, more precise sounds on their instruments.

After Mr. VanDemark, a double bassist, took up the sport two years ago, it became clear to him that boxing and music intersect. “It’s all about muscle coordination and rhythm,” he said of his decision to make boxing part of his class curriculum.

But the benefits may sometimes be even more primal. Danny Ziemann, a 21-year-old senior double-majoring in music education and jazz performance at Eastman, said, “I love having this one hour where I don’t have to worry about anything except punching stuff.”

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